“Self-worth has much more to do with how you truly feel about yourself, about who you are as a person, and how you value yourself.” Jacqueline Strong
Self-worth is something I speak about often with clients. In the beginning, I always like to ask each individual how they would define self-worth. What I’ve heard from countless people is that they view self-worth as something that is tangible and found in achievement. They value themselves within the confines of success: whether it be an accomplishment at work or in their personal life. To me this speaks more to the idea of having pride in something you’ve done, rather than valuing yourself.
What is self-worth?
One of the ways to define self-worth is that it has much more to do with how you truly feel about yourself; about who you are as a person and how you value yourself. Clients regularly come in stating things like “I don’t deserve” or “they are so much better at _____ than me” or “I couldn’t imagine putting my needs first” or “I have no problem helping them, but can’t imagine helping myself in that way”.
What these statements all have in common is that these clients come across as believing they aren’t worth much. Why is that the case? What would cause someone to fail to see their worth?
How do you improve your self-worth?
This is an issue I am presented with daily and one which I’ve worked on personally as well. I believe that a lack of self-worth often appears when our inner critic is given the opportunity to speak. When we allow this part of us to tell ourselves that we aren’t worth it. Where does this part of us come from?
It can come from many places and often begins to develop when we are very young. Our values and beliefs are developed at a very young age. These core systems are ingrained in us and reinforced through our experiences. They are also reinforced by societal “norms”.
Shift the way you define worth
If those “norms” aren’t promoting self-acceptance are they worth believing in? Do you think you can change your beliefs and values? We most certainly can. Exploring old beliefs that were useful to us at one time may help us to see that carrying these values around now may no longer be useful. It may be time to shift your thinking to values and beliefs that may better serve you now.
For example, if you grew up believing that because you are a woman you have less value to offer the world, perhaps ask yourself if that value is still worth holding. Is that value fact-based or simply a learned belief? It may be time to question that belief and see if you can shift it into a belief that may be more fact based. Can you challenge yourself to see all you have to offer? That what you have to offer is equally as valid (even though it may be different) as to what others have to offer?
Change is good
If you had a pair of jeans that didn’t fit anymore, would you continue to wear them everyday? Or would you go in search for a better fit? This analogy can relate to beliefs and values that diminish our self-worth. Counselling can help bring your beliefs and values to your consciousness and allow you to explore them safely. Working with a counsellor can help you see how beliefs have been helpful and that we can be grateful to them for the purpose they served at the time. Through counselling, you can create a new set of values that honours yourself in a more supportive and worthy way.
If you are feeling like you don’t matter or aren’t good enough, it may be time to make a change. You can help yourself grow, adapt, evolve into the worthwhile person I’m sure deep inside you know is there waiting to shine through.